King Edward’s School Year 10 pupil, Guy Willcock, has won the Heart of Bath Environmental Hero Award after being nominated by his fellow volunteers from the Charlcombe Toad Rescue Group, who help rescue hundreds of amphibians each year as they cross Charlcombe Lane to reach their breeding lake at the bottom of Charlcombe Valley.
The Heart of Bath Awards, sponsored by Curo, aim to shine a spotlight on some of the city’s residents who gave gone the extra mile to achieve something locally, be it a community project, fundraising effort or heroic act. As the Environmental Hero Award winner, Guy joins eight other winners at an Awards dinner in June, where an overall winner will be revealed.
Guy has volunteered with the Charlcombe Toad Rescue Group for six years now, and is the group’s youngest volunteer. Tasked with patrolling Charlcombe Lane every night during the amphibian migration season, from January to April, Guy estimates that this year alone the group has helped rescue 2,000 amphibians. A recent study has shown that on average common toads have declined by 68% over the last 30 years, so the work carried out by volunteers is vital.
In nominating Guy for the Environmental Hero Award, volunteers of the Toad Rescue Group were impressed with his long-standing commitment. “Guy is the youngest volunteer by far and is an enthusiastic environmentalist who has saved thousands of amphibians over the last 6 years,” said a spokesperson of the group. “He patrols almost every night and sometimes until midnight. Given his young age this is quite remarkable as it shows determination and passion for the cause.”
For the past 16 years B&NES Council has closed Charlcombe Lane to through traffic from mid-February for a period of six weeks in a bid to give the toads a fighting chance to survive. Charlcombe Toad Rescue Group funds the Temporary Traffic Regulation Order themselves, thanks to a grant from ethical cosmetics company, Lush.
Guy’s involvement with the volunteer’s group has also inspired his work at school. In 2015 his story, entitled ‘In Search of Bufo Primas,’ based on amphibian likeness, was published in the Anthology, and in 2017 Guy gave a speech about Toad Rescue as part of his public speaking Grade 6 exam.
Recently, Guy’s work with Toad Rescue has led to his appointment as a Young Green Ambassador for Groundwork Youth, a national network of 16-24yr olds who are passionately committed to improving their communities. This Summer Groundwork Youth is running a #InclusiveSpaces Campaign, with a week of action planned from 23-29 July, which Guy will be taking part in, planning events locally, in Bath.
You can follow the Charlcombe Toad Rescue Group on twitter @toadrescue, or on Facebook @toadrescuebath